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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chocolate Orange Nut Balls

For some reason the chocolate-orange combination reminds me of Christmas. Maybe it's because of those chocolate oranges wrapped in foil, or maybe it's because of  these orange cookies dipped in chocolate one of my mom's friends used to make at Christmastime. Either way, just because I think of Christmas when eating these nut balls doesn't mean they are just for eating at Christmastime. That is definitely not the case! Chocolate is for eating at any time of the day or year! ;)

These little fruit and nut balls have just the right amount of sweetener and the perfect amount of orange zest. They're perfect for a small dessert, a  midday snack, or any other time of the day, for that matter.

Originally I set out to make some sort of protein bar with peanut butter and dates in it, but obviously that didn't happen. Maybe next time! Sometimes, when I'm playing around in the kitchen, what I plan to make doesn't always turn out to be what I actually do make. My creativity gets the best of me and that's not always a bad thing.  Such as the case with these.

While making the nut balls, I also found out a way to cut back on the fruit part of the fruit and nut balls, so they aren't as high in sugar. It's super easy and makes the nut balls a lot stickier. All you have to do is cut the dates in half and soak them in water for five minutes or so. Now my fruit to nut ratio is .25:1! The soaked dates are sweeter and lend a bit of caramel-like flavor to things, though it's not to noticeable in these nut balls.

However, I encourage you to play around with the amount of dates you use. Some people like things sweeter than others so just use how ever much tastes good to you.

1/2-1 c. dates, pitted
1 c. walnuts, raw
1 c. almonds, raw
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. orange zest

1. Soak the dates in a bowl with hot water for about five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop your nuts into a fine meal using your food processor.
3. Add the dates and pulse until well combined.
4. Add the cocoa powder and orange zest. Pulse until combined.
5. Scoop out about a tablespoon of the fruit and nut mixture, then roll into balls and place on a sheet of wax paper. You can also make them into bars.
6. Freeze for at least an hour, or enjoy straight from the food processor!

Inquiry of the Day:

What flavors remind you of Christmas?

Naturally ginger and peppermint do, but orange, molasses, and cinnamon and brown sugar Pop-Tarts do as well.  
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Frozen Mochachino

As the temperature in Indiana is getting in the 90s one last time (hopefully), I'm taking advantage of the hot weather and drinking/eating as many cold things as I can. Iced coffees, Paleo fudgesicles, watermelon, smoothies, etc. I figure, why not? I most likely won't be having these things in the fall and winter so might as well eat them while it's still warm outside.  

 We actually started making this recipe soon after we got our Vita-Mix. I don't know if all Vita-Mixes have this, but ours came with a packet with recipes in it. Some of the recipes were from the Vita-Mix company and others were from employees. Our favorite recipe that we tried was the mochachino. Of course it wasn't Paleo so I finally got to making a Paleo version a few weeks ago and it is just as tasty.

So what exactly is a mochachino? Basically, it's just coffee and hot chocolate combined. And it's really delicious. I mean, what's not to like? This is the perfect drink for coffee lovers and for who people who don't like coffee, as well. The chocolate and coffee come together to create a different, yet still delicious, iced drink.

My favorite part of all coffee drinks is the foam on top. But I hadn't figured out how to make it for myself until a few weeks ago. It's actually really simple. All you have to do is throw the ingredients into a blender, give it a spin, and viola! Foam!

I hope you guys enjoy this homemade coffee shop drink as much as the rest of my family did. :D 

2 c. milk of choice (I used a combination of almond, coconut, and a little bit of heavy cream)
1 1/2 T. instant coffee
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
6-8 ice cubes
optional: whipped cream

1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and give it a whirl.
2. Scoop the foam off the top and reserve. Divide the rest of the drink between three glasses and garnish with the reserved foam.
3. Add whipped cream and/or chocolate syrup and enjoy!

Inquiry of the Day:

Are you ready for fall or wishing it was still months away?

To be honest, I'm ready for fall. Though, that might be partly because that's when my birthday is... ;)
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Blog's 1st Anniversary!

Happy belated blog-iversary to me!

Happy belated blog-iversary to me!
Borrowed from

Happy belated blog-iversary, dear me-ee!

Happy belated blog-iversary to me!

I was really disappointed when I didn't have the time to post anything on my blog's actual anniversary (which was Sunday). I had just gotten home from Ohio and had to get ready to go to school the next day (it was the first day). And then, I had a bunch of homework to do on Monday night. I know. First day of school and I already had homework. Crazy, right?

Anyways, I was really excited about my blog-iversary, because I never would've thought I could've stuck with it for so long. I honestly didn't expect to "meet" people who read my blog, or actually keep posting for a whole year. The fact that I did makes me very proud.

But I think the only reason I stuck to it was because of you, my lovely readers. :) I kept posting, because I wanted to provide you guys with new, delicious recipes, and share my insight on writing and health with you. And I'm so happy that you guys care about all the things I have to say. It's really encouraging.

Remember when I entered that contest and I lost? Well, after receiving all those encouraging comments I felt tons better. I have to say, that is definitely one of my favorite blogging days. Even though, I was dealing with the sadness of not winning after working so hard at the contest, seeing all your guys support really brightened my day.

Wow, so this post didn't turn out to be about me after all! ;) But, like I said, the only reason I keep turning out posts is for you guys. So thanks a ton! :D  

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Healthy Eating Means To Me

My relationship with food has been all over the place. I have gone from living to eat to eating to live, and back again. Several times, may I add.

The first time it happened I was in the third grade. I had this really terrible nausea all time and it made me not want to eat. Not to the point where I stopped eating completely, but sometimes all I would have lunch would be oyster crackers and yogurt. That lasted for a couple months, then (after getting strep throat) I got better. The same thing happened in the fourth grade.

And you all know that about a year and a half ago I was eating to live again. I dropped thirty pounds refused to eat, despite my parent's insistence, and was pretty much a blob. A nauseated, frail, pained, introverted blob. To any who knows me I am none of these things (except an introvert, but at that point it was worse than it is now ;p).

I tried avoiding dairy, gluten, spicy foods, chocolate *gasp!*, and a numerous amount of other foods. Not necessarily at the same time. For a while the only things I was eating were smoothies made out of coconut milk, avocado, and fruit, cream of rice with dates, and chicken and rice. (Sometimes I would have fish or quinoa.) That was a very sad time. I dreaded every meal, because I was never hungry. I had absolutely no energy, so I spent most of my days on the couch. I don't think of that time in my life as a positive one. Even just typing about it makes me feel kinda sick.

It wasn't until I started eating healthier last spring and seeing several holistic healers that I finally started to get better. I learned what the chemicals, additives, enriched wheat flour, sugar, etc. was doing to my body and I did my best to cut all of it out completely.

That worked for a while, but I didn't really grasp the meaning of healthy eating. I felt better, just not 100% better, which is where I wanted to be.

I don't think I ever would've known what healthy eating truly is until I got my first Paleo cookbook for Christmas last year. I researched a lot about the diet and decided to give it a try in January. After about a month and a half I felt really good. Like my nausea was getting better and my stomach stopped hurting. It was amazing!

After my physical problems were solved I still held onto my emotional ones. I was scared, to put it simply. Scared of food. Which is not really a good thing to be scared of. That's not healthy eating. That was eating healthy. They are too completely different things. One makes you feel good from the inside to the out and the other is more like a chain. You can eat healthy, but not reap all of it's benefits, because mentally something doesn't click. My personal philosophy is that healthy eating is knowing what you eat, making sure it nourishes your body, and to NOT be afraid of it. If you're afraid of putting something in your body, DON'T EAT IT!

Now, that doesn't mean to be super strict with your diet all the time. That's what I was doing. It took all the fun out of the Paleo lifestyle. But Paleo is not a diet. It is lifestyle. Meaning it needs to be maintainable for the rest of my life. And it's practically impossible for someone to cut out all sugar, dairy, grains, and processed oils completely. These days I do eat some sugar and gluten-free bread, rice, quinoa, etc. occasionally. I also eat potato chips, which are my kryptonite and try as I might I cannot give them up. I'm also able to have dairy without a problem most of the time. But, you know what? I feel great.

And I think that's really all that matters when your trying to eat healthy. Feeling good and looking good. So do what's best for you. The vegan/Paleo/whatever-diet mold doesn't fit everyone perfectly. Adjust it to your needs. It's also okay to not be perfect. Humans aren't perfect. It's just a fact of life. So don't hang on to the guilt if you indulge in that piece of chocolate cake or scoop of ice cream. Let it ago and start fresh right after.

Okay, that was a long, heavy post. #sorry #notsorry I hope you learned something from it!

By the way, I'm still working on my special blog anniversary post. Meaning, I still have no idea what I'm going to do. ;) Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

Inquiry of the Day:

What does healthy eating mean to you? 
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Moist muffins with a hint of cinnamon and pieces of dark chocolate in every bite.

Normally, my dad would be all over these. Chocolate muffins? What's not to like? Well, nothing, except for the zucchini. Yes, my father is one of those strange people who refuses to eat vegetables in his baked goods. But pumpkin is okay to have in them for some strange reason. *rolls eyes* This can be difficult at times, however, it also means more zucchini muffins for my mom, sister, and me.

One of my lifelong goals is to trick him into eating dessert with vegetables in it. So far, it hasn't worked. :\ But I haven't lost hope! Not quite yet.

Anyways, when I was younger, the thought of zucchini in muffins or cookies disgusted me. Until my mom made zucchini cookies. They were soft, had a delicious vanilla glaze on the top, and didn't taste like zucchini at all. I loved those cookies.  (And I really need to make a Paleo version of them.)

One day my mom served them to me and a couple of friends who stayed after school that afternoon. Those friends were picky eaters. And I mean really picky eaters. Yet, they like the zucchini cookies, too! Despite the green specks and everything! My dad, who normally isn't that picky, refused to try them. I've always thought this was pretty ironic.

So that wasn't at all related to zucchini muffins, but the cookies did have zucchini in them, so it was indirectly related.

2 c. almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2-1 c. shredded zucchini
heaping 1/2 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners.
2. Mix together the first four ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
3. Add the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir well to combine.
4. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
5. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.
6. Bake for 13-16 minutes.
7. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Inquiry of the Day:

Do you know anyone who absolutely refuses to have vegetables in their baked goods?
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Breakfast Hash

This could actually be called Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Hash because you can really put anything in it. All those leftovers from several nights before, you know, the roasted or raw vegetables, chicken, hotdogs, burgers (vegan or otherwise), pasta, etc. Everyone has leftovers and lots of people get stuck in the boring leftover routine. Eating the same thing day after day after day (okay, maybe not that long ;).

The breakfast hash is here to quell the leftover boredom. In a very tasty, creative way. Well, maybe not that creative, but still... It tastes good.

Lots of bloggers out there have done their own take on the breakfast hash and this is mine. I love putting sweet potatoes in my breakfast hashes because a) they're delicious, b) are much healthier than regular potatoes and c) go good with just about any type of meat you can think of. And meat always belongs in my breakfasts. Always. (Sorry my vegan and vegetarian friends, but it's just my personal standard, I guess that's the right word :/.)

I recommend getting creative with the toppings, too. My personal favorites are sriracha and salsa, but you can use whatever you want, really.

Anyways, just play with it and have fun. There really is no right or wrong answer here. Just throw in whatever you think might be good and see how it turns out. Winging it. My favorite strategy. ;)

3 small sweet potatoes or 2 medium-sized ones, shredded
3 sausages (I buy the precooked frozen patties from Costco, but links work, too)
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
3 eggs
optional: cilantro, fried egg, salsa, BBQ, sriracha, cheese, bacon, sour cream, etc.

1. In a large pan on medium heat cook your sausages. Meanwhile dice your pepper and onion.
2. When the sausages are done, set them aside, add some more oil to the pan, then saute the pepper and onion until the onion is translucent and the peppers are soft.
3. While the onions and peppers are cooking, peel your sweet potatoes. When they're done, using a salad shooter, shred the potatoes into the pan. If you don't have a salad shooter, then shred your potatoes in a food processor or dice them. Stir the potatoes, peppers, and onions together. Cover and let sit for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Now take the lid off and taste the potatoes, if they're soft keep the lid off. If they're not, put it back on and let them cook for about 1-2 more minutes.
5. Once they're soft, cook them on one side for 3 minutes or until crispy, then flip them and cook them for another 3.  
6. At this point, you can add your spices. Mix well to combine.
7. In a small separate pan, grease and heat to medium heat. Once hot, crack your eggs into the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cover. Cook your fried egg how you want, I like mine with a soft, but not runny yolk.
8. This next part is up to you. Either you can put the egg on the bottom and put the hash on top or vice versa, or eat both separately and add whatever toppings you want.

Inquiry of the Day:

Recipe ideas?

I'm running out of ideas for things to post. Anything you'd like to see more on the blog? And what kind of recipes would you like?

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Friday, August 2, 2013

It's Time For An Update...

Okay, time for a day-in-the-life post. I know how you all love those. ;)

Recently (meaning just a couple days ago) I decided I wanted to do a triathlon. I've discovered that I need motivation to work out otherwise I feel like I'm doing it all for nothing. Which I know I'm not, but physical change isn't a big enough motivation for me to get off my butt and work out five days a week. I need goals. The feeling I get when I accomplish the goals I set for myself is what motivates me to work out.

The problem with a doing a triathlon is that the one I want to do is at the end of this August. Yikes! My biggest concern is having enough time to train. Luckily it's a pretty easy triathlon, so hopefully I won't die by the end of it. ;)

Another big thing that's happening is that I'm going to Chicago this October! You might be thinking, "What's so special about that?" Well my one of my favorite authors ever (Veronica Roth) is going on a book tour for her newest book (Allegiant) and she's stopping in a town near Chicago for a book signing! I'm so excited and I can't wait to go! That might not be as exciting to you as it is to me, but.... I needed to share it. 

What I'm not so excited about is school starting on August 12th. :( I'm ready and at the same time I'm not ready to get back in to the school routine. But I can't slow time or make it stop, so I'll just have to deal with it. And, besides, fall is my favorite season! Not just because of the pretty leaves, but because of my birthday, the Catching Fire movie, going to Chicago, Thor 2, I could go on. ;) Now you all know how big of a fan girl I am and I am sorry for that.

On August 18th, it's my blog's birthday! Yay! I'm planning on doing something special, but I haven't figured it out what yet... Any ideas?

One last thing, I finished typing up the second draft of my novel and it's longer than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! I know it's rude to brag, but I'm just so proud! :D I'm that much closer to finishing it and sharing it with you guys!

I'm sorry I had to bore you all with my life. ;) Just so many things going on and I had to share them!

Also, I need ideas for recipes and what kind of posts you'd like to see more. Dessert recipes, snacks recipes, day-in-the-life posts, crafts, etc.? I'm not only doing this blog for myself, but for you guys too so I need your input!
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